A series of studies published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology have found being outside in nature makes people feel more alive.
According to one of the researchers, “Nature is fuel for the soul“.
The research suggests a better way to get energized than tea and coffee is to connect with nature. As well as being good for the spirit, there are physical benefits as well, as energized people are more resilient to physical illnesses.
Some studies suggest that being surrounded by nature helps to ward off feelings of exhaustion and that 90 percent of people report increased energy when participating in outdoor activities.
While it could be claimed that any sort of physical activity will have an energizing effect, experiments have shown individuals consistently felt more energetic when they spent time in natural settings – or even just imagined themselves in such situations – rather than exercising indoors.
Being out in nature certainly helps break through the fog in my head that sometimes accumulates; but the effect isn’t always from a warm and fuzzy aspect being among the leafy green.
Sometimes when I’ve had a frustrating day slogging away on the keyboard, a walk around my little slice of Australia helps bring things into perspective. I might be worried about something work-related that is really insignificant, but it seems like a major crisis until I see something like a locust struggling in a spider’s web. That locust is about to die. My life will likely go on. In that respect, nature makes me feel very alive and gets me thinking about what is important.
I’m privileged to have the Aussie bush on my doorstep. If you’re in suburbia or a city, it can be a lot more challenging to make a connection to nature.
A quiet (safe) spot in a local park might do the trick, but it should be within walking distance. Having to battle traffic on the return trip might harsh your green buzz; not to mention the environmental impact of commuting to and from that place.
If you have a back yard, turn into a local climate compatible piece of paradise. Plant species that attract other creatures such as birds and bees (bees need our help).
I think the important thing to do if you have a garden is to not just admire it from your porch, but get up close to the plants, sit under the shade of a tree and observe your very own ecosystem doing its thing – you’ll be amazed at the new world you discover.
For those who have access to neither, there’s always the option of just closing your eyes and imagining being in a beautiful natural place – it’s a form of meditation that I’ve used and it really does work.